Why Volunteer with Pantry Express? | The River Food Pantry


Our wonderful volunteers, Brinnan and Joel, have helped to lead The River’s Saturday pantry session, called Pantry Express. Learn why they are so passionate about volunteering with this program.


“I started volunteering with The River in January of 2019. I was looking for a way to give back to my community and the time I’ve spent at The River has exceeded my expectations. I love the direct connection volunteers get to have with clients. You can see the need and then do something about it. You might be packing bags of fresh fruits and vegetables and an hour later be loading those bags into client vehicles. When the Saturday Pantry Express started in the summer of 2022, I was thrilled to be a part of it. This service has gone from about 40–60 cars per week to often over 140 cars. We regularly hear from clients that they cannot get to The River on weekdays, so Saturday is their only option. Pantry Express eliminates many of the barriers that might keep someone from coming to a food pantry and that is what makes it so special for myself and many of the other regular volunteers. The only personal question we ask on Saturdays is about the number of people in their household. After that simple query, a client will leave with a generous quantity of food, other goods, and hopefully a smile on their face. When I encounter a Pantry Express client who has never been there before, I always tell them that I’m happy to see them. ‘I’m not happy that people need help,’ I explain, ‘but I’m glad that you found us.'”
–Brinnan S., Volunteer of The River


“Circumstance is the only thing separating those who are food insecure from those who are not. Being fortunate to have the time and ability to support food insecure households, I was delighted to discover the amazing resources, friendliness, and commitment of staff and volunteers at The River Food Pantry. Although the Madison area has a host of organizations assisting food insecure households, there remain obstacles to obtaining needed food for many families — barriers like work or personal schedules incompatible with normal pantry hours, transportation difficulties, recipients not wanting to provide personal information to receive food, and simply needing additional food during the week even after making a routine visit to a food pantry. The River’s Pantry Express on Saturdays is in many ways ‘barrier-busting’ by offering weekend food distribution, without requiring registration, and regardless of whether households have visited a pantry during the prior week. In addition, one driver can pick up food for other households who may have transportation barriers. As with all The River’s food programs, staff and volunteers aim to make the process inviting, friendly, and welcoming for the customer. It is a privilege to work with others who share such passion and commitment while meeting the needs of our wonderful, kind and generously grateful clients.”
–Joel W., Volunteer of The River

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